Charlie Morton undergoes Tommy John surgery

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UPDATE: That was fast. According to Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Morton had Tommy John surgery today in Pensacola, Florida. He will miss the rest of the season and figures to be in rehab-mode for the early part of 2013.

11:51 PM: Charlie Morton has been on the disabled list since late May with an elbow injury and now the Pirates fear the right-hander may need season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Morton was working his way back from the DL when he “tweaked” his elbow during a bullpen session Sunday, at which point the Pirates shut him down again and sent him to be examined by a specialist.

Morton was a pleasant surprise last season, starting 29 games with a 3.83 ERA for his first sustained big-league success at age 28, but this year the extreme ground-baller has been sidelined first by hip surgery and now by what may prove to be significant elbow problems.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.